“I think the…Western swing, or whatever you want to call it, will slack off for a little while and then I think some of these younger boys will come out here one of these days with a golden voice and it’ll build again.”—Bob Wills
After attending the Bob Wills Festival and Fiddle contest in Greenville, TX over the winter I developed a deep love for the Western Swing genre and for it’s creator, Bob Wills.
But I’m ready for more.
Luckily early in the new year Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel will again honor the legendary Bob Wills with ‘Still The King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys,’ out March 3 on Bismeaux Records.
Exemplary Americana and country artists like The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Buddy Miller, Elizabeth Cook, Lyle Lovett, Shooter Jennings, Brad Paisley and George Strait join the band on new interpretations on classics on, what looks like, a release that will best the previous two Will’s tributes from the band.
For over 40 years, Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel have been the deft practitioners and caretakers of Western swing craft, carrying Wills’ traditions across generations and the into the 21st century.
This release will be band’s third full-length Bob Wills tribute following 1998’s ‘Ride with Bob’ and 1993’s ‘A Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills,’ with four GRAMMY awards and over half a million copies sold collectively.
From the press release:
“The new album features genre-spanning collaborations with critically acclaimed artists, old friends and new favorites including Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Jamey Johnson, Merle Haggard, George Strait, The Avett Brothers, Amos Lee, Old Crow Medicine Show, Lyle Lovett, Kat Edmonson, Robert Earl Keen and Tommy Emmanuel, among many others. The album is available for pre-order via PledgeMusic and iTunes with the track “Tiger Rag,” featuring Old Crow Medicine Show, delivered in advance of the release date as an immediate download. Asleep at the Wheel will be performing at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on March 4 with spring tour dates to be announced. Watch the exclusive video teaser HERE. Please see the full track listing below.
Widely considered “The King of Western Swing,” Bob Wills (1905-1975) and his Texas Playboys performed thousands of shows across the United Sates for nearly six decades and recorded prolifically in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s. Early stars of American country music, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys were a dance band with a country string section that played pop songs as if they were jazz numbers. “After 45 years of traveling and playing, it still amazes me how well this music, born in the 1920s and ‘30s, thrives in the present day,” says Benson. “The artists playing and singing on this collection range in age from folks in their 20s to former Texas Playboys 92-year-old Billy Briggs and 86-year-old Leon Rausch…certain evidence that Western swing music is alive and well as it cruises through the next millennium.” Bob Wills was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2007.
Based in Austin, Asleep at the Wheel formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia in 1970. Since their inception, the band has won nine GRAMMY awards, released more than 20 studio albums and charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. In 1971, the band signed their first record deal after Van Morrison mentioned they “play great country music” in an interview in Rolling Stone. Their debut record, Comin’ Right At Ya, was released in 1973 on United Artists. The release of Texas Gold in 1975 brought the band national recognition, with the single “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read” becoming a top-ten country hit. The band has been awarded “Touring Band of the Year” (CMAs, 1976) and the “Lifetime Achievement in Performance” (Americana Music Awards 2009). In 2010, they earned a GRAMMY nomination in the newly minted Best Americana Album category for their critically acclaimed Willie & The Wheel, on Bismeaux Records.
Owned by Ray Benson, Bismeaux Records has won “Best Local Record Label” three years consecutively in the Austin Music Awards. Between 2005 and 2012, Ray Benson wrote, produced and starred in the Bob Wills musical A Ride With Bob. The production sold 70,000 tickets in 18 cities nationwide including the Kennedy Center in 2006. In 2007, Benson performed with Carrie Underwood & Johnny Gimble on the GRAMMY Awards Telecast in a special GRAMMY Salute to Bob Wills.”
‘Still The King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys’ tracklist:
1. Intro—Texas Playboy Theme (with Leon Rausch)
2. I Hear Ya Talkin’ (with Amos Lee)
3. The Girl I Left Behind (with The Avett Brothers)
4. Trouble In Mind (with Lyle Lovett)
5. Keeper Of My Heart (with Merle Haggard and Emily Gimble)
6. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (with Kat Edmonson)
7. Tiger Rag (with Old Crow Medicine Show)
8. What’s The Matter With The Mill (with Pokey LaFarge)
9. Navajo Trail (with Willie Nelson and The Quebe Sisters)
10. Silver Dew On The Bluegrass Tonight (with The Del McCoury Band)
11. Faded Love (with The Time Jumpers)
12. South Of The Border (Down Mexico Way) (with George Strait)
13. I Had Someone Else Before I Had You (with Elizabeth Cook)
14. My Window Faces The South (with Brad Paisley)
15. Time Changes Everything (with Buddy Miller)
16. A Good Man Is Hard To Fine (with Carrie Rodriguez and Emily Gimble)
17. Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas (with Robert Earl Keen and Ray Benson)
18. Brain Cloudy Blues (with Jamey Johnson and Ray Benson)
19. Bubbles In My Beer (with The Devil Makes Three)
20. It’s All Your Fault (with Katie Shore)
21. Three Guitar Special (with Tommy Emmanuel, Brent Mason and Billy Briggs)
22. Bob Wills Is Still The King (with Shooter Jennings, Randy Rogers and Reckless Kelly)